Quarterback: Matthew Stafford actually finished the game with impressive numbers — 18 of 26 for 256 yards with two touchdowns — and avoided turnovers. He was great on the first two drives — 6-for-6 for 119 yards — and the second-to-last drive — 5-for-6, 88 yards. But, he couldn’t do anything in the second or third quarter and finished 7 of 14 for 49 yards outside of those three nice possessions. Obviously, taking seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits made Stafford’s day incredibly difficult, but he has a role in the protection calls.
Running backs: Ameer Abdullah was playing well before a combination of a left arm injury and a near fumble on a kickoff return led to a reduced role. He finished with 43 yards on eight carries. Theo Riddick was impressive again with 40 yards on three catches, including a 31-yarder, and Joique Bell added 21 yards on three carries and two catches for 14 yards. George Winn and fullback Michael Burton each missed a chance to score a 1-yard touchdown.
Wide receivers: Calvin Johnson continued playing well after breaking out last week, finishing with 86 yards on five catches and drawing a long pass interference. But, he was the only bright spot as Golden Tate’s two catches for 14 yards were the only other contribution from the group. Obviously, the quick sacks had an impact on the receivers’ performance, but they knew there would be pressure on the quarterback coming into the game.
Tight ends: Eric Ebron will have to watch film of the play where he allowed a sack, but besides that, he had some of the key highlights in the game as he finished with five catches for 89 yards and a touchdown. His yardage was a game high and career high, and his 55-yard catch was the longest of his career, too. Tim Wright added a 13-yard catch.
Offensive line: It’s almost like the guys didn’t realize their top priority was to block the players trying to hit Matthew Stafford. The blocking issues fall across the line and on the coaching staff as the Lions knew the Vikings would disguise blitzes. To have such a sad performance against a team that also whooped the Lions up front five weeks ago is incomprehensible.
Defensive line: The numbers were fine as the Lions had 11 quarterback hits and four sacks. End Ezekiel Ansah — four tackles, three hits, one sack — and tackle Caraun Reid — six tackles, four for loss, two hits and a sack — both played well. Unfortunately, there were several stretches where the Lions didn’t create much pressure, which was part of their undoing.
Linebackers: Stephen Tulloch continued his stretch of solid play with eight tackles, including three for loss. Josh Bynes had eight tackles, too, but appeared to just miss plays that could’ve helped the defense significantly. Travis Lewis looked like the player who missed containment on Adrian Peterson’s 75-yard run.
Secondary: The Lions struggled a few times to recognize curls that helped the Vikings move down the field. Really, Minnesota appeared to use the game as a tune-up for its passing game, and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater regularly found open receivers. Cornerback Rashean Mathis got fooled on a route that turned into a 36-yard touchdown by rookie receiver Stefon Diggs.
Special teams: Punter Sam Martin continued playing with a 49.3-yard average — and 45.5-yard net — on his six punts. Matt Prater hit a 52-yard field goal, and the Lions prevented any big gains by a good Vikings return unit. Unfortunately, the most notable play for the Lions was a holding on Don Carey on a punt, which is hard to do.
Coaches: On the first two drives, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi looked like a genius. After that, he looked like someone trying to be a genius. There was no reason George Winn and Michael Burton should’ve touched the ball at the 1-yard line on a key fourth-quarter drive. And Jim Caldwell should’ve challenged the play where Calvin Johnson might’ve scored because using a time out would’ve been understandable even if he lost. The players had to be better, but it didn’t look like the coaches put them in the best position to thrive.